(Pictured: Arnya Swindale, Sign Language Tutor, and Theresa Williams, Sign Language Tutor, with Nicola Sutton, Chief Executive, ELPNZ)
Our ‘NZ Sign Language’ Christchurch class is unique as an English class. It’s for former refugees who have little or no previous education, no English, and are deaf.
This special English class recently won a major award at the annual ACE Aotearoa Awards.
The programme, run by English Language Partners (ELPNZ), won 2018 ‘Community-based programme of the year, Tangata Tiriti’ in Wellington at Te Papa in June.
Nicola Sutton, Chief Executive ELPNZ attended the awards evening and is thrilled with the win. “The learners and teachers involved in this programme all work so hard to ensure that deaf refugees can communicate and live confidently in their new home.”
Most of the learners are from Bhutan and need specialized help to settle well in New Zealand.
“Many have spent years in refugee camps and experienced hardship and trauma,” says Ms Sutton.
“Most have had no previous education and, in some cases, have no previous knowledge of any language, including formal sign language”.
By learning to communicate in NZ Sign Language, the participants are able to interact with many Kiwi communities, including the deaf community. Students also learn to write and read in English.
“What’s amazing is that they’re so keen to learn and to become active members of the community,” says Ms Sutton.
The class has one deaf teacher and one hearing teacher who is proficient in NZSL.
ELPNZ teaches English to former refugees and migrants so they can settle well in New Zealand. Provision for refugees is a priority.
Classes are organised with input and support from other community organisations.